Why Bobi Wine, Besigye, Muntu can’t unite
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Gen. Mugisha Muntu, the leader of Uganda’s newest political party; the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) faces a crucial test this June when it holds its first Delegates Conference.
Muntu’s position as leader is not under threat but his reputation is. And the threat Muntu faces is one: can he cause a sizable number of MPs to switch from the other parties to him? Muntu’s fate could determine how his nascent party relates with other politicians, formations, and parties in negotiations for a single joint candidate to challenge President Yoweri Museveni in 2021.
This is an urgent issue since the first polls for the next general elections will be held nationwide on April 20; just slightly over two months from today, according to the revised key milestones for the 2019/20-2020/21 election roadmap.
This milestone is a critical indicator for those in the race; especially those aspiring to challenge President Yoweri Museveni in the 2021 polls.
Muntu is one of many who have signaled intent. But three critical questions remain unanswered. Will the opposition parties, organisations, formations, and individuals this time unite behind a single joint candidate or will it be a repeat of 2011 and 2016 when they failed? Who would be the desired candidate if the opposition fields a joint candidate? What will be the fate of the opposition should they field many candidates instead of one?
If Muntu succeeds in causing major defections from other parties into his Alliance, he will have created a psychological belief that he is a winning candidate for an opposition coalition. This is based on the widely held view among researchers on coalitions that “opposition coalitions only work when they appear capable of winning and thus prompt members of the ruling party to defect. These defectors not only bolster the ranks of the opposition, but can bring supporters with them and sway undecided voters.” This view was first made by the American political scientist and professor of government, Nicolas Van de Walle.
That could partly explain why, when Muntu left FDC in a huff in October 2018, there was wide promotion of speculation that many of the FDC members of parliament and leaders at many levels would quit FDC to join him. Over a year later, it has not happened.
According to most analysts, local and international, Muntu’s political weight will be enhanced if he can get MPs to switch from the leading Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) to join his Alliance. His weight would be doubled if he can cause defections from the NRM. If he cannot cause that switch, instead of becoming a major political force, Muntu will become another political fuss.
Kyadondo East MP Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi faces a similar test and has suffered a similar fate but to a lesser extent. Since unveiling his amorphous People Power grouping, it was expected that many leading politicians would flock to his camp. That has not happened although some MPs have resorted to donning the red colour as a symbol of opposition to Museveni.